In 1906, the government began the policy of merging local shrines. Due to this policy, nearly 70 percent of the shrines in Wakayama were consolidated and closed.

Kumagusu feared that the merger of shrines which were deeply connected with people’s local lives would damage folklore and culture passed on over time as well as that the ecosystems protected by shrine forests (those that existed within shrine grounds) would be destroyed, so he started his opposition movement. He was even imprisoned once due to this.

In 1911, Kumagusu wrote two long letters alerting the many negative impacts of shrine consolidation to an influential botany professor at the University of Tokyo. With the help of Yanagita Kunio, these letters were printed and distributed to influential people under the title “Two Letters from Minakata.”

Kumagusu used the word “ecology” within the opposition movement.
He can be considered a pioneer of ecological thought in Japan.

<strong>Tanabe Extracts</strong><br> These 61 notebooks contain extracts from Japanese and Chinese books that Kumagusu copied out from 1907 to 1934 after having settled in Tanabe.<br> The content includes material from many different sources, including library books and the personal collections of friends.<br> Among these, were over 4,000 pages of transcriptions from around 20 Buddhist scriptures, which Kumagusu spent roughly three and a half years writing out.
Tanabe Extracts

<strong>Kumagusu’s Imprisonment</strong><br> Kumagusu worked actively with the opposition movement against shrine merger policy.<br> In 1910, Kumagusu attempted to directly negotiate with the government officials promoting the shrine merger. Being heavily drunk, Minakata committed an act of violence, and subsequently was detained for 17 days. Kumagusu complained to everyone that this incident was “unjust oppression.”
Kumagusu’s Imprisonment

<strong>Forests Protected and Forests not Protected</strong><br> Kumagusu put all of his energy into his opposition movement against  shrine merger policy.<br> Although there were forests which they faild to protect, Minakata and his cooperators succeeded in protecting forests amongst the numerous shrines that were consolidated.<br> Minakata’s opposition movement has also connection with the later registration of the Kumano Kodo as a World Heritage site.
Forests Protected and Forests not Protected